Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation Electoral Committee, Anthony Malik (SAN) says the committee won’t conduct the NFF election earlier slated for Friday September 30 in Benin City, the Edo State capital, following a court order.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on September 15 stopped the NFF poll after the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria filed a suit against the federation over unequal representation of all the five statutory bodies making up the NFF in terms of voting rights and representation on the board, its congress and sub-standing committees.
The court, which presided over the matter in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1376/2022, also ruled that all parties should maintain status quo and adjourned further proceedings till October 31.
The claimants are Harrison Jalla, Victor Baribote, Austin Popo and PFAN, while the defendants are the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF boss Amaju Pinnick and sports minister Sunday Dare.
In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH Malik noted that the NFF election would not hold until the court order was vacated, thus clearing the air on whether the election would hold on Friday or not.
“Notwithstanding that the order did not say, ‘don’t hold an election,’ as a SAN, I will stand on the side of caution by respecting the court order and not proceeding with the conduct of the election, as the chairman of the electoral committee. Unless the court order is vacated, my committee will not conduct the September 30th election,” Malik told The PUNCH.
“The order of the court to stop the NFF election from holding was filed September 2, but it was not heard until September 15, and the court made the order directing parties to maintain status quo, the court did not say the elections should not hold.
“However, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I noticed the order was made in respect of an application filed by the plaintiff, while they were seeking the court to stop the elections from holding, I would rather stay on the side of caution by not proceeding with the conduct of the election.
He also said that the court order made on September 15 was not a court injunction stopping the election, but a court order.
He added that the plaintiffs had instituted the court action in 2021, noting that it was not a fresh suit and not binding on the NFF electoral committee that was instituted in 2022.
“The ex parte order was filed in respect of pending proceedings, the plaintiff had instituted the substantive action since 2021, so it’s not a fresh action.
“The electoral committee is not a party to that action. I am not a party to that suit and the electoral committee could not have been a party to that suit, the action was filed in 2021, so it’s an ongoing proceeding.
“From my investigation, the plaintiffs and the defendants have appeared before the court several times, so the matter was adjourned at some point to October 31, 2022.”
Recall that the NFF Electoral Committee 2022 cleared a total of 11 persons to contest for the position of the federation’s president at the election.
Top on the list is current Vice Presidents of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko; Ibrahim Gusau, current NFF board member; Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande; immediate past NFF General Secretary, Musa Amadu and Head of Safety and Security, Confederation of African Football, Christian Emeruwa.
Others cleared for the exalted post, to be vacated by Amaju Pinnick are Amanze Uchegbulam, Mouktar Mohammed, former Nigeria international, Peterside Idah; Abba Yola and UK-based David-Buhari Doherty.